THE ISSUES

This Is What I Stand For

 

Medicare for All

I believe healthcare is a right for all Americans. As a right, health care has to be universally available. Thus, we need a health care system that is available to all, no matter your economic condition. This is not the case today. More than 30 million Americans essentially have no health care. To address this problem, to give true meaning to the notion that health care is an American right, I support Medicare for All.

Health care is one of the biggest personal expenses families incur. But our health care system has put quality, comprehensive healthcare out of reach for millions of Americans. Indeed, we have a system in which health care is made available only to some and primarily through private insurance companies.

In other words, we have a system in which, metaphorically, the fox is guarding the hen house. Insurance companies are deciding on the amount, cost and quality of care for individuals -- life and death decisions in the hands of entities for which their primary motive is making a profit. This is wrong. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. The passage of the Affordable Care Act was an important first step. Now is the time for bold action to finish the job with universal health care available for everyone. Medicare for All makes that possible.

Increase Minimum Wage to $15

Too many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, working two and three jobs, struggling to make ends meet. The American Promise has been that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can succeed, no matter where you’re born. But that has not been the case for too many families.

According to several reports, income inequality in America has grown dramatically since the 1970s, without being matched by growing economic mobility. Increasing income inequality has contributed to rising levels of residential segregation by income in large metropolitan areas and widening disparities in educational achievements by wealth and income. This growing divide threatens our nation’s ability to make the most of the potential human capital of its citizens.

It is high time for a change.

To start, we need to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, phased in over a few years. I also believe we should phase-out the subminimum wage for tipped workers. These measures will help us get more money into people’s pockets so that they, in turn, can purchase goods and services in our economy that will help everyone. Gradually raising the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would lift pay for nearly 40 million workers— 26.6 percent of the U.S. workforce, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Already, states representing approximately 21 percent of the U.S. workforce—California, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia—have approved raising their minimum wages, and other states—including Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona, Missouri, Michigan, and Maine—have done the same. 

It is time for federal leadership on this important issue, and when I am your U.S. Senator, I’ll provide it.

 
 

Universal Pre-K for every child from birth to age 5

Every child, from birth to age five, should have access to a quality early childhood education, no matter their financial circumstances. The evidence is clear that every dollar of investment in early childhood education reaps multiple returns. I led the effort to implement universal pre-K in Mecklenburg County. Nearly 2,000 children now are receiving a quality early childhood education who did not previously have access to it. The results have been encouraging. I will ensure that every child in North Carolina, and everywhere else in the country, has the same opportunity.

Education is the key to prosperity.  Early education, starting from birth, is the foundation - long before formal schooling begins in kindergarten.

We know that on-grade educational proficiency can be a key predictor of future events in a child’s life. Currently, only 39% of the third-graders in Mecklenburg County can read on grade level. Put another way, most of our kids do not read at grade level in third-grade. This is intolerable.

 

Rather than simply talk about this issue, I've acted to solve the problem. First, I helped establish Read Charlotte, a collective impact initiative whose goal is within 10 years to have 80% of our third graders reading on grade level. I led the effort to commit the county to become a financial partner of this initiative because it is critical to our future. More importantly, I am leading the effort to bring Universal Pre-K to Mecklenburg County. Every child, from birth to age five, should have access to a quality early childhood education, no matter their financial circumstances.

The evidence is clear that every dollar of investment in early childhood education reaps multiple returns. To further this effort, we conducted a feasibility study to determine how Universal Pre-K could be achieved. We determined that this initiative was feasible, and issued a report detailing these findings.

In recognition of my efforts on early childhood education, I was honored to be invited to join the Blue Ribbon Commission on Local Financing Options for Early Childhood Development at the N.C. State University Institute for Emerging Issues.

Debt-Free College

I am concerned about the current affordability of a college education in the U.S (particularly since I have one child in college now and another one on the way next year). The debt college graduates carry limits their finances for decades, especially when they are not able to find jobs making enough to repay the debt.

 

I support debt-free college legislation that would include all expenses for college, not just tuition. This could be accomplished through need-based grants administered at the state level. When our students graduate from college, they should receive a debt-free degree, not one with a promissory note attached.

 
 

Green New Deal

Climate change is real. I believe the science. We need to act now to avoid catastrophic outcomes. We need look no further than the devastating and long-lasting effects of Hurricanes Matthew and Florence on the people in Robeson County, for example, to know how real climate change is. Eastern North Carolina still is recovering from these hurricanes, which damaged our coastline and devastated rural communities.

 

I support the Green New Deal as a way to position our communities to be prepared for the effects of climate change, while providing a new sector of clean energy and infrastructure jobs to allow North Carolinians to earn a living and protect their own communities in an environmentally sustainable way. It is a bold roadmap for addressing

the impact of climate change on our lives. In particular, I favor its focus on building resiliency against climate change-related disasters, providing Americans with improving access to clean water and air, repairing and upgrading our national infrastructure, including building energy-efficient and smart power grids, spurring growth in clean energy jobs, supporting family farming, high-speed rail, and many other initiatives to improve the quality of our life on this planet.

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"I believe now is not the time for half-measures in response to the crisis the American people face. We can still do big things in America."

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